How To Break In a Baseball Glove Fast
Wouldn’t it be great if your young son or daughter could effortless catch a baseball? Wouldn’t it be nice if they could catch with confidence, stepping into each throw and grabbing the ball out of the air and enveloping it in the web of their glove? If you want your young player to catch like this, then they will need a glove that is well broken in. In this post, I will share with you my experience in how to break in a baseball glove fast. It worked for me every time, I believe it will for you too.
There are lots of ways to break in new gloves, but there is one way in particular that I have found to be super effective for breaking in a new baseball glove for young kids. In this article I will show you how to break in a baseball glove fast, the right way, so your young player gets the most out of it. A well broken in glove is perhaps *the* most important tool your child will need to learn to play catch with confidence.
There are three keys to breaking in a youth baseball mitt.
- Choosing the right kind of glove
- Using the right kind of glove conditioner
- Flexing and Fitting the glove for maximum “catch-ability”
A Glove Like Butter
To begin with, we need to know what kind of finished glove we are after. Different positions use different gloves. What’s more different ages, expect different things from their gloves as well. Catchers obviously use a different glove than everyone else, but so does a first baseman. At the high school level infield mitts are different from outfield mitts. This can all be very confusing to parents.
What we are after is a general purpose all around glove that feels soft as a fleece blanket when it’s finished. It is thick enough to protect the player’s hand, but soft enough to envelope the ball and “absorb” the ball.
The final result is a glove that is so easy to close, it is not fighting the player. This gives him more confidence in his ability to catch the ball. This is what young kids need. They need to be able to catch effortlessly, every time.
Note: At higher levels, you may hear just the opposite. For example, high school middle infielders are taught to keep their gloves ridged like a paddle. They rarely close their glove, trapping the ball in there like a marble in a bowl. Outfielders in contrast use HUGE gloves, ones that are soft and designed to be like fishing nets. This is often confusing for parents. Here we are focused on what young kids need. When they get older they can deal with that level of specialization. For now we need to keep it simple. A small, soft glove the kids don’t need to fight to close. That is our goal.
Choosing the Right Kind of Glove
Typically, as I pointed out infield mitts are small and hard, outfield mitts are large and soft. For the youth baseball player, we are looking for two key attributes when we pick a glove. We want the right size glove, and we want the right material for quick break in.
Picking the Right Size
What we want for the youth player is a small soft mitt. We want a mitt that is just a little larger than their natural hand. This is typically a 10 1/2 inch glove.
Why? Because most youth players are trying to transition from “grabbing” the ball with the palm of their hands, much like you or I would grab the hand rail on a boat, to catching the ball between their thumb and index finger. The web of a glove resides between the thumb and index finger and believe it or not, this is not the most natural place to try and catch something. By choosing a smaller mitt, it is easier for the player to see the ball going into their glove the right way.
Pick a larger mitt and they lose sight of the ball, but more importantly they lose the feel for it as well. This “blindsiding” can lead to confidence problems and ultimately stifle a player’s development as they try to protect themselves when the ball passes out of their sight into their oversized mitt.
It is much easier, safer, and more fun to track the ball all the way into the mitt.
Now I have some sad news for you. No matter how good the glove is you pick, your little player will grow out of it in a year. You are lucky if a glove will last more than a season. With that in mind, it does not make a lot of sense to buy an expensive glove. What’s more, we don’t have to worry so much about what we do with the glove. This is good because the process I will show you will definitely shorten the life of the glove.
I find that the best gloves for youth sports are the Mizuno Prospect gloves with the Power Close technology. I have never had one of these gloves wear out. The Power Close is nothing more than a notch cut in the palm of the glove making the glove much easier to close.
However, another excellent and inexpensive choice is the Wilson EZ Catch synthetic youth gloves with the oversized basket. While synthetic gloves can feel a little cheesy, they break in incredibly fast producing a soft, supple mitt that is the Venus fly trap of mitts.
Once you have your mitt selected, it is time to break it in.
The very best glove conditioner I have found for this process is Hot Glove Treatment.
It is essentially a custom mix of shaving cream, designed to bake for a few minutes in the oven. The combination of heat and lanolins in the foam (skin softeners) accelerates softening the vinyl or leather.
The instructions are on the can, but essentially you warm the oven. Then put a dish towel on a cookie sheet. Next smear the foam all over the glove coating it completely. And finally you bake it in the oven for 4 minutes. Then voila! Your glove is now soft as butter when it comes out. It is also hot as a fresh boiled egg so be careful!
Forming the Glove
Once the glove comes out of the oven, here is the important part. You flex the glove like you would not believe. I even turn mine inside out inverting the pocket (not the part where the fingers go – the part where the ball goes! )
You rub in the remaining of the white foam into the glove material while you careful flex it open and closed, loosening up the leather and feeling the glove move freely.
Don’t put your hand into the mitt until it has safely cooled down!
After the glove is cooled, I repeat this process 2-3 more times (for a total of 3 or 4 runs).
Just as a quick review, here are the steps:
- Make sure the glove is clean.
- Smear the glove with Hot Glove Treatment, coating it white
- Bake it in the oven, the recommended number of minutes
- Being careful of the heat, take the freshly baked glove and flex it virtually every way you can conceive of
After the last pass of loosening up the glove, I would wrap a softball inside the glove and wrap the pinky over the thumb. This creates a large pocket inside the glove and gives it a bowl shape which is more likely to direct a bouncing ball back into the pocket.
Nothing kicks a ball out of a glove faster than a flat pocket. People who don’t put a ball in their glove are ruining their gloves faster than baking them in the oven in my experience.
I have wrapped my glove with a belt, or with cellophane wrap. Anything to hold it together. I usually leave it overnight, but in truth it is ready to go immediately upon cool down. I have gone out and played catch with a glove like this as soon as it cooled enough for me to safely put my hand inside.
And that is it. If you pick the right size glove, one that is small like an infield mitt, then we can break it in to be soft like an outfield mitt, your young player will have a much easier time catching baseballs thrown to him (or her).
If the glove closes effortlessly, and it is easy for the player to track the ball into the pocket of the glove they are going to catch more balls and develop more confidence in their playing ability.
True Story: My oldest son got his nickname Spider, because when he was 6 years old, he was the only player on his team who could catch a fly ball. Spiders catch flies.
It worked for us, I hope your success is even better.